11 The LORD told Moses, 12 “When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each should give a ransom for his life to the LORD when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. 13 Each one who is numbered in the census should give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel equaling twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to the LORD. 14 Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and older, should give the LORD’s offering. 15 The rich should not give any more, and the poor should not give less, than the half shekel, when you give the LORD’s offering to make atonement for your lives. 16 You should take the atonement money from the people of Israel and should give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the LORD, so as to make atonement for your lives.”
That half shekel ransom fee was not the atonement itself, but it was given by each worshipper as part of their worship experience. That little gift spoke volumes:
- It was a reminder during the census that numbers do not matter. If tempted to look at the vast number of Israelites tallied, and presume safety and security in those numbers, the LORD warned them that such thinking brought the plagues on the Egyptians, and could do the same to them.
- It was a reminder that wealth and power do not matter. Each was to give the same amount, because in the LORD’s eyes the differences between us are insignificant. True equality can only be envisioned by those who dare to see their entire nation “under God.”
- It was a reminder that worship matters. The atonement money was something of value that was to be offered for a service that mattered. Bringing the people of Israel to remembrance before the LORD was a blessing, a valuable one.
LORD, every time we give to our local church, remind us of these important truths. Bring to our minds what we know about your grace. Remind us that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Bring to our minds what we know about you. May we value our times together worshipping you and proclaiming your worth.